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The mythical championship rounds

Rounds 10,11, and 12 are called the championship rounds. Allan Cerf explains their importance

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Boxing gloves  pic by creative.jpg
Boxing gloves pic by creative.jpg

Nine minutes in a world title fight. Rounds 10-12. Even some of the best boxing broadcasters and writers refer to these rounds as “championship”

 

It’s infuriating. But worse, in this crazy sport, sometimes merely talking about something gives already shaky judges the means to do something stupid and impactful – like rendering a terrible decision.

 

A recent example of citing such rounds, were the British commentators on DAZN’s broadcast of the superb WBSS title fight won by Josh Taylor. As the fight entered its final stages, one of the commentators asked another if he didn’t feel that Taylor would leave the judges with a better last impression than Regis Prograis?

 

I can’t recall what the second commentator’s reply was.

 

What’s wrong with leaving “last impressions,” is that it doesn’t make a rat’s ass difference what final impressions the 12th round left with the judges, unless the outcome of the 12th decided the fight. The 12th being I guess, the championship round, even more important than sister championship rounds, 10 and 11.

 

This Brit somehow felt an impressive finale would sway judges who would then tally their cards for Taylor and against Prograis, regardless of what happened in earlier rounds before the sway.

 

Now, if you pinned this guy down, he would deny it, yet that’s what he said and worse, thought at the time. Obviously, the judges can’t change their cards. If a boxer is up by 2 rounds on all 3 cards, for example, or 2 of 3 cards and remains upright throughout round 12, then win, lose or draw the round, he wins the fight.

 

However, let’s not leave out DAZN’s USA cousins, this side of the pond: That trio is Brian Kenny, Sergio Mora and Chris Mannix. About Mannix I’m not sure, but Kenny and Mora consistently gush about the significance of mythical championship rounds.

 

I don’t know how, or why - when the notion of championship rounds began, but they’re here to stay. I think if quizzed, most pundits would say championship rounds represent the last, “best chance,” to influence the judges. But again, it’s meaningless and the negatives, obvious. Championship rounds should be described for what they are – the last 3 rounds of a 12-round fight. Period.

 

Yet round 12 is all-powerful, apparently. Indeed, every time the worst referee in the sport, Arthur, “head trauma” Mercante, exhorts the fighters “who wants this, who wants this?” before the 12th and final bell, I want to scream – or punch him through my big screen computer monitor.

 

Here’s why championship rounds, like dragons, don’t exist but pretending they do is terrible for the sport. This aside from the fact that accepting the notion of championship rounds makes smart boxing pundits, temporarily stupid.

 

From least to most harmful:

The idea of championship rounds misleads fans, particularly fans new to the sport. We’re entering the critical rounds, now, the championship rounds. Can Fighter A, who’s struggled, summon the fighting spirit we know so well and sway the judges?”

 

Well, no, he can’t. If Fighter A is down by say, 8 rounds, winning key rounds 10-12 means he still loses by a landslide. Inevitably, newer boxing fans automatically think that these ‘special’ rounds count more than normal rounds. They do if they’re 10-8 rounds. Or, if Fighter A suddenly dispatches fighter B with a knockout punch sure, he wins, but not because it occurred in rounds 10-12. No – KO, TKO and fight over in any round, 1-12.

 

Say there’s a scrappy fight through seven rounds, and fighter A, a fan and press favorite, hasn’t performed well. Judges– as one of my boxer interviewees said recently, are unfortunately swayed by outlets. Internet, TV, you name it. They’ve heard announcers say, countless times, ‘well ‘A’ may not be ahead clearly after 7 rounds, but we’ve still got – the championship rounds.

 

How easy then, for judges to pave the way for fighter ‘A’ the press and fan favorite - even before the glorious championship rounds arrive. And then when rounds 10-12 arrive, fighter A can leave that better “last impression.”

 

He wins by a whisker, and it looks like prophecy. Really, it’s a crock.

 

In the last ten years there’s at least one instance in which a judge’s card was changed in an important fight; a card with scratched out and then re-scored rounds was posted on the internet. The championship rounds helped the fan favorite get close to pulling even. A little skullduggery with tampered cards eased him over the line, to victory. I’m not saying it’s common.

 

But it happened. (Thankfully I’ve not heard of judges being within earshot of live announcer’s commentary, or the talk coming from press row and then being influenced by that chatter. That, thank God, is, I think, impossible.)

 

Rounds 9-12 have no more and no less value on points, than those the preceded them. The same scoring rules apply. Every round is or is supposed to be looked at by judges, as it’s “own fight.” Regardless if Ned Knockout appears to perform well in rounds 9-12 - if Ned was too far behind, he loses. Or should.

 

Funny, huh, that when one fighter, especially a star, has mopped the floor with his opponent through say, round 9, there’s little mention of the championship rounds. But if that star somehow finds himself even, or behind after 9, then championship rounds 10-12 may be our chance to see a miracle.

 

If a memorable fight is legitimately close, then rounds 10-12 really are critical as they’re the last three chances either boxer has to try and win the fight. Translation: The fight was tight after 9 and Fighter B clearly won 11-12 with 10 anybody’s guess. So fighter B won. Fighter B didn’t need help from mythical championship rounds and pundits.

 

Don’t insult the intelligence of fans, and don’t give the judges another chance to do something stupid.

 

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